Last update: June 25, 2024

8 minute read

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Dive into the world of hyaluronic acid, the secret behind dewy, plump skin. Discover its benefits, side effects, and the best ways to use it.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Jacquie Leone, NMD, HN

Learn more about our editorial standards

Have you ever encountered the ingredient 'hyaluronic acid' on your favorite skincare product and wondered what it is? This article explores the definition, benefits, and safety measures associated with Hyaluronic Acid, providing you with a wealth of knowledge to make informed decisions about adding it to your skincare and wellness routine.

Key takeaways

  • Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring, gooey substance produced by your body humectant that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water
  • Its uses vary by age, from oil control in the young to joint health in the elderly
  • Though generally beneficial, it may cause irritation for some and needs professional handling when injected

    What is hyaluronic acid?

    Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan or hyaluronate, is a naturally occurring, gooey substance produced by your body. Found plentifully in your eyes, joints, and skin, this miracle worker plays a key role in hydration, joint function, and skin health.

    Hyaluronic acid's applications are diverse, adjusting to the unique needs of different age groups. For younger people, it primarily aids in controlling oil production on the skin. Excessive oil often leads to acne and other skin issues, and hyaluronic acid helps in maintaining a balance, ensuring the skin remains hydrated without becoming overly oily.

    What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid?

    From your glowy complexion to those flexible yoga moves, hyaluronic acid is your secret wellness partner. Let's dive in to see why this molecule is on everyone's radar.

    1. Prevents bones from grinding: Hyaluronic acid prevents bones from grinding against each other, and ensures proper lubrication, reducing the risk of pain and injury.
    2. Hydrates your body: A quarter teaspoon of hyaluronic acid could hold about one and a half gallons of water? It’s a powerful humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture in the joints and skin. That's why it's known as the hydration hero. Just like your go-to reusable water bottle, it's always ready to quench your skin's thirst. It's the key ingredient in your moisturizing creams, lotions, and even treatments for dry eyes.
    3. Keeps your skin youthful: Have you ever wondered why babies have such pinchable cheeks? It's because their skin is loaded with hyaluronic acid. As you age, the amount decreases, leading to skin that's less plump and more prone to wrinkles. However, the topical use of hyaluronic acid can turn back the clock and reduce those pesky wrinkles. Plus, it's been proven to help wounds heal faster and even reduce scarring!

    How is hyaluronic acid made?

    Knowing where your products come from is a huge part of conscious living. So, let's discover how this wonder substance is made.

    Natural production

    Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in your body, but when it comes to your skincare or supplements, it's most often sourced differently. The most common method involves fermenting certain types of bacteria.

    Before you go 'eww,' remember that not all bacteria are bad. Just think about how your beloved kombucha and yogurt are made!

    Rooster combs

    Rooster combs, the red mohawk-like growth on top of a rooster's head, are another common source of hyaluronic acid. But if you're vegan or prefer cruelty-free products, no worries! There are many vegan hyaluronic acid products that rely solely on bacterial fermentation.

    What kind of hyaluronic acids are there?

    Each type of hyaluronic acid is designed to meet specific skincare needs, offering tailored solutions for oily, normal, or dry skin:

    1. Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid: This variant is broken down into smaller elements, allowing easy penetration into the skin. It can provide moderate moisture, making it suitable for people with oily or combination skin who aim to achieve balanced hydration without over-moisturizing.
    2. Sodium Hyaluronate: Delivering superior moisturizing results, this form of Hyaluronic Acid seeps deeper into the skin. It is ideal for people with normal skin, offering adequate moisture without the need for long-lasting effects. Look for this ingredient in your favorite serums.
    3. Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate: Combining the advantages of Sodium Hyaluronate with extended hydration, this type is perfect for people with dry skin while helping to reduce wrinkles.

    Is hyaluronic acid safe?

    When it comes to products that you apply to your skin or ingest, safety should be your number one priority. After all, you're not just buying a product, you're investing in your health. Let's break down the safety aspects of hyaluronic acid.

    Health experts say that hyaluronic acid is safe to use for most people. You can find it in countless skincare products, eye drops, and even dietary supplements.

    Research also suggests that hyaluronic acid is safe during pregnancy and during nursing. But remember, if you're pregnant, your body is going through some major changes, so it's always a good idea to double-check with your healthcare provider first.

    VitaRx Tip

    There are some things you should be cautious about mixing with hyaluronic acid. Although rare, products that combine hyaluronic acid with other compounds may have some risk of side effects.

    Dos and don'ts of using hyaluronic acid

    Safety is always a priority when using hyaluronic acid. Here are some things to do and things to avoid when using hyaluronic acid.


    • icon

      Do talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements or products.

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      Do conduct a patch test when trying a new skincare product with hyaluronic acid.


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      Don't mix hyaluronic acid with other products without first checking with a healthcare provider.

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      Don't disregard any unusual reactions or adverse effects.

    How can I take hyaluronic acid?

    Now that we've covered what hyaluronic acid is and its safety, let's explore how you can add it to your wellness routine.

    OTC products

    Think of hyaluronic acid as your trendy wellness tool. There are countless over-the-counter products where hyaluronic acid is the star ingredient.

    From dietary supplements to skin serums and even eye drops, you can take your pick based on your needs. Plus, there are products for personal use that contain hyaluronic acid, offering relief for vaginal dryness or discomfort.

    Prescription forms

    While hyaluronic acid is widely available over the counter, there are some forms that require a prescription or need to be administered by a trained medical professional. For example, hyaluronic acid injections for joint pain or fillers for cosmetic purposes.

    Check with your healthcare provider

    Ultimately, how you include hyaluronic acid in your routine will depend on your individual needs and goals. So, have a chat with your healthcare provider to understand what will work best for you. Remember, your wellness journey is unique to you, and what works for your bestie or favorite influencer may not be the best fit for you!

    Are there any side effects of hyaluronic acid?

    Navigating through the world of wellness can often feel like walking through a minefield. It's easy to get caught up in the latest trends and forget to ask, "Are there any side effects?" So, let's get real about the potential downsides of hyaluronic acid.

    Minor skin irritations

    Most people can use hyaluronic acid without issue, but some people report minor skin irritations. So, while you may have friends who rave about hyaluronic acid, you should test it out for yourself to make sure it's the right fit.

    Similarly, though rare, allergic reactions to hyaluronic acid can occur. It's essential to do a patch test before applying a new product to your skin.

    VitaRx Tip

    Make sure not to apply something all over your skin without testing it first.

    Injection side effects

    When it comes to injectable forms of hyaluronic acid (like fillers), the risks can be slightly higher. You might experience pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. This is why it's crucial to have these procedures done by a certified professional.

    Advantages and disadvantages of using hyaluronic acid

    In the realm of skincare, it's crucial to weigh the pros and cons before adopting a new routine or product. This is also true for hyaluronic acid.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    In the world of skincare, questions are as abundant as the products themselves. Below are some frequently asked questions about hyaluronic acid.

    Final thoughts

    So, we've traversed the skin-deep waters of hyaluronic acid, uncovering its super hydrating powers and potential drawbacks. Now, you're equipped to make an informed decision and perhaps introduce a new superstar into your skincare routine.

    But remember, everyone's skin is unique. So, always test new products and observe how your skin reacts. After all, skincare should never be a "one-size-fits-all" scenario, it should be a custom-fit, just for you!

    Sources and references


    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

     Dr. Jacquie Leone avatar

    Dr. Leone holds a BA in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and board certification in holistic nutrition. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Leone has developed and currently teaches science and nutrition courses for a nationally accredited institution. She specializes in chronic illness, gastrointestinal dysregulation, inflammatory conditions, and mental health. Her unique approach combines the wisdom of Eastern medicine with the technology and science of Western medicine, offering an integrative approach heavily focused on functional medicine.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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